Sunday, April 3, 2011

Prayer, Part Five: Asking the Lord for a Message

This is part of a talk I gave at Mt. Charleston this weekend.

This is why we constantly thank God, because when you received the message about God that you heard from us, you welcomed it not as a human message, but as it truly is, the message of God, which also works effectively in you believers. (I Thessalonians 2:13)

Paul was thankful that his converts heard the message of God. When we pray for a message from God, who are we praying to? In John 1, Jesus is described as God's Word. Jesus is God's message to us, wearing a human body and walking among men for 33 years. When we ask for a message...we are talking to The Message.

We all receive lots of messages every day: text messages, e-mails, books we're reading, television to conversations--we are flooded with advice. Some of these messages are helpful, some are extremely unhelpful, and some are directly from God. Let me tell you about God's message to me one Christmas Eve several years ago.

My husband went to church early to practice with the band, so I got the children ready in their Christmas finery. Now, my oldest, Lydia was seven and she was very capable of sitting through a church service, but the two younger girls were four and not quite three, and they were very wiggly. We all sat down in the sanctuary, and my little Tina found that her satin dress allowed her to easily and repeatedly slide out of my lap. Soon we went up on stage to hear a special children's message. Under the bright lights, my four year old Annika decided her tights were itchy; lots of wiggling and scratching followed and her hemline didn't exactly stay at a modest level.

After the children's story we attempted to sit in the sanctuary for approximately two minutes, before we gave up and fled to the Family Worship Room. There were lots of noisy kids in that room (because that's the purpose of the room!) so we couldn't hear the sermon. I began to get a little discouraged, wondering why I had come to church at all. At least we got a photo of the girls in their Christmas dresses, I thought, but that seemed a silly reason to be at church. When the service was over, as we slowly made our way through the crowds in the sanctuary to meet my husband at the piano, many people greeted us with “Merry Christmas” or “your kids are cute,” but one man said something different. He was a stranger to me, and I saw him smiling, watching me trying to herd my children through the exiting congregation. He looked at me and said “God bless you.” Those three words were the only Christmas message I heard or needed that night. Those words adjusted my attitude and I began to count blessings rather than annoyances.

I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding, and have the knowledge of God's mystery—Christ. (Colossians 2:2)

Paul wanted his converts to grow in loving relationships with each other, finding the knowledge of Christ together. That was my prayer for the women who attended retreat—that they would encourage each other and learn more about the Lord and to talk to Him.

As you read these Psalms, notice the phrase "Your word."

How sweet Your word is to my taste--[sweeter] than honey to my mouth...
Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path...
I am severely afflicted: Lord, give me life through Your word...
You are my shelter and my shield; I put my hope in Your word...
The revelation of Your words brings light and gives understanding to the inexperienced. (Psalm 119:103, 105, 107, 114, 130)

If we want to receive a message from God, if we want to recognize His voice in the midst of all the other messages we receive every day, we must be familiar with His word. Messages from God will never contradict the Scriptures—and that requires that we spend time reading the Scriptures.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:15)

God means what He says. What He says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. (Hebrews 4:12, The Message)

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